In tribute to Liam

8th December 2006 at 00:00
Each Friday, every child who walks to Crossgates Primary in Fife or is dropped off at the designated spot away from the school gate, is rewarded with a new stamp in his or her Going for Gold booklet. The more the children collect, the greater the reward.

It is just the sort of thing that will have them nagging their parents not to drive too near the school. But parents at Crossgates already have a motive for being considerate drivers.

Earlier this year, six-year-old Liam McConnell was killed on his way home.

Brenda Allan, the headteacher, remembers that day in May when she got the call. "We didn't know who it was, just that one of our pupils had been knocked down," she says. "We were in shock."

The previous year, the senior management team, led by Mrs Allan, had been working with a group of parents, pupils and others from the community on its School Travel Plan, a Scottish Executive-funded initiative that has given schools in Scotland until 2008 to develop their strategies. Last week, the Executive announced a further pound;5 million to persuade more pupils and parents to walk or cycle. Liam's untimely death made the Crossgates group even more determined.

This October the school launched its plan to every parent, and the parent teachers association organised a 1,700 balloon race to raise money for Liam's memorial at the cemetery. "We've been implementing many of the initiatives as we worked towards our plan, so some are already in place.

This is only the beginning," she says.

Crossgates is typical of many other primaries in Scotland. It is small, with 217 pupils, many of whom come from rural areas, villages and farming communities. A large percentage either arrive by bus or are dropped off by their parents on their way to work. There is a long history of traffic congestion at the gate. But now the school is seeking solutions, beginning with drop off and pick up at a distance from the school.

The area has been designated a 20mph zone, barriers have been erected on the pavement and an arrangement has been made for school buses to park on the school side so children don't have to cross the road. A staff member accompanies the children to the bus, and they queue up in the playground rather than on the street.

"But it isn't just about changing roads, it is also about educating our children to be sensible on the roads, and to encourage more people to walk," says Mrs Allan.

Liam now has a memorial in the cemetery, a bench in the playground and a tree in the grounds. But his legacy lives on in the safety precautions that his school is implementing.

School travel plan

brief description of location, size and type of school

description of traveltransport problems, including all pupils' travel needs

results of survey to identify how children currently travel tofrom school and how they would like to travel tofrom school

clear targets and objectives

details of proposed measures

timetable for implementation

clearly defined responsibilities

evidence that all parties have been consulted

proposals for monitoring and review

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